Did You Know?
Was Jerusalem ever surrounded by pointed stakes, as Jesus foretold would happen?
In his prophecy concerning the destruction of Jerusalem, Jesus said of that city: “Days will come upon you when your enemies will build around you a fortification with pointed stakes and will encircle you and distress you from every side.” (Luke 19:43) Jesus’ words came true in the year 70 C.E. when the Romans, commanded by Titus, erected a siege wall, or palisade, around the city. Titus’ objective was threefold—to prevent the Jews from fleeing, to encourage their surrender, and to starve the inhabitants into submission.
According to Flavius Josephus, a first-century historian, once the decision to build this palisade was made, the various legions and lesser divisions of the Roman army competed with one another to see which could complete its assigned section of the siege wall first. The countryside to a distance of some ten miles [16 km] around the city was stripped of trees, and the palisade, which proved to be about four and a half miles [7 km] long, took a mere three days to complete. At that, says Josephus, “all hope of escaping was now cut off from the Jews.” Reduced to famine and to murderous struggles among its various armed factions, the city fell to the besiegers some five months later.
Did King Hezekiah really build a tunnel into Jerusalem?
Hezekiah was a king of Judah in the late eighth century B.C.E., a time of conflict with the mighty Assyrian power. The Bible tells us that he did a great deal to protect Jerusalem and to secure its water supply. Among the works he undertook was the construction of a 1,749-foot-long [533 m] tunnel, or conduit, to bring springwater into the city.—2 Kings 20:20; 2 Chronicles 32:1-7, 30.
In the 19th century, just such a tunnel was discovered. It became known as Hezekiah’s Tunnel, or the Siloam Tunnel. Inside the tunnel, an inscription was found that described the final phases of the tunnel’s excavation. The shape and form of the letters of this inscription lead most scholars to date it to the time of Hezekiah. A decade ago, however, some suggested that the tunnel was built about 500 years later. In 2003, a team of Israeli scientists published the results of their research aimed at fixing a reliable date for the tunnel. What conclusion did they reach?
Dr. Amos Frumkin of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem says: “The carbon-14 tests we carried out on organic material within the plaster of the Siloam Tunnel, and uranium-thorium dating of stalactites found in the tunnel, date it conclusively to Hezekiah’s era.” An article in the scientific journal Nature adds: “The three independent lines of evidence—radiometric dating, palaeography and the historical record—all converge on about 700 BC, rendering the Siloam Tunnel the best-dated Iron-Age biblical structure thus far known.”